On Friday, January 12, 2018, Oklahoma City mayor and candidate for governor Mick Cornett was interviewed by Pat Campbell on 1170 KFAQ. Cornett offered no real answers to Campbell's questions, but spun out a full bogroll of vague platitudes. The impression is that he just wants to be liked and doesn't want to say anything that might make someone not like him. Of course, having that kind of attitude in the Governor's Mansion is why we are where we are as a state.

Campbell asked Cornett about an independent expenditure campaign that is advertising heavily in support of him in the Tulsa area. Jamison Faught at Muskogee Politico has posted about the pro-Cornett super-PAC, whose major donor was Sue Ann Arnall, oilman Harold Hamm's ex-wife. Arnall was a major donor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and has been a generous contributor to other Democrats. Campbell asked Cornett to explain why a Clinton backer would be such an enthusiastic advocate for him; Cornett gave a rambling non-answer.

Asked about what he specifically did as mayor of Oklahoma City, Cornett described himself as a "chief spokesperson," for Oklahoma City, "traveling the world" to talk about the city. Cornett cited no policies or initiatives for which he was responsible. He sounded like a Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson, which is probably the job he should be seeking.

In fact, the Mayor of Oklahoma City is merely one councilor among nine, albeit the only one elected city-wide. The CEO of Oklahoma City is the City Manager, who is hired by the City Council.

Campbell asked Cornett about comments he made on an Oklahoma City radio station regarding school district consolidation. Cornett said that if we're going to talk about consolidation, "we ought to start concentrating on Oklahoma City" which has all or parts of 24 school districts within the city limits. Asked what consolidation in Oklahoma City might look like, Cornett dodged again: "I'm not the one that's bringing up consolidation!"

Campbell asked Cornett whether he supported a proposal to reduce the legislative threshold required to pass a tax increase without a vote of the people from 75% to 60%. Cornett began his answer with, "Well, that would have go to a vote of the people, right? And I'm all for a vote of the people if they want look at changing it." He audibly brightened, as if hopeful that the requirement for a referendum on any change to that constitutional provision would excuse him from forming and voicing his own opinion. Cornett used the phrase "revenue idea" as a euphemism for tax increase. Asked specifically how he would vote if the threshold-lowering proposal were on the ballot, Cornett replied, "You'd have to have a much deeper conversation than we could have here." Later in the interview, Cornett wouldn't offer support or opposition to any of the specific taxes that a group called "Step Up, Oklahoma" are proposing, suggesting only that any proposal could be on the table for negotiation.

"What would you do differently than the current incumbent?" is not a strange question to ask, and most politicians would have a ready answer. Cornett wouldn't be drawn out on what he would do differently than Mary Fallin. When asked what he would do as governor, he talked about health and education being his priorities. He would be a "champion" for those issues, "trying to inspire people to do better."

Campbell persisted in his unsuccessful pursuit of specifics about Cornett's platform: "Is there something tangible... something specific you can cite?" "I'll be a champion for jobs. I meet with business leaders, take them around." Cornett appears to see the job of governor as the same as mayor of Oklahoma City -- cheerleader with no actual authority or responsibility to direct and oversee the operations of government.

Thomas Schwartz offered an insightful comment about the interview: "Mr. Cornett wants to do for the State of Oklahoma what he has done exceptionally well for the City of Oklahoma City -- turn it into an even greater crony capitalist paradise for the well-born, well-connected, and well-heeled. That means unending disappointment for Bible-believing Christians who support free enterprise but believe that the greatest challenges we face in the Sooner State are moral and spiritual."

Certainly there's nothing in Cornett's background to suggest that he would focus his attention on streamlining state government, making the tough decisions to enable the state to fulfill its responsibilities within its means. Mick Cornett's weaselly refusal to offer specific answers to Pat Campbell's reasonable questions tells me he either doesn't understand what the job entails or has an agenda that he knows Republican voters won't like. Either way we can't trust him with the state's highest office.


(I can't help but notice the OKC mayor's resemblance to the drug-addled pretender to the throne of Western Swing who tortured his wife to death in a hallucinatory rage and dropped dead on the verge of his release from prison. Of course, the resemblance is only superficial; Cornett simply divorced his high-school-sweetheart wife of 32 years, to her apparent surprise and dismay.)


Two years ago, on January 12, 2015, I posted this on Facebook, relating to Sue Ann Arnall's divorce from Harold Hamm. (Link to the relevant Daily Mail story added.)

That has to be the weirdest phone poll I've ever been asked to take. It had the usual sensitivity tests you expect in a political poll -- "If you knew XYZ, would that make you more favorable or less favorable" -- but it was about the Harold Hamm divorce settlement and whether I thought it was fair. The overall tenor of the poll was what could we include in a PR blitz about the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Hamm to convince you that she deserves a bigger settlement than the almost $1 billion-with-a-B that she got. This seems like a very expensive way to cultivate the opinions of the potential jury pool.

DISCLAIMER: I am neither an accountant nor a lawyer. This is just something I came across while calculating our own estimated taxes. I may not have understood it correctly. Your mileage may vary. Consult your own accountant.

Here's something to ponder before they pass the plate this morning in church.

If you currently itemize deductions, but your itemized total is less than the standard deduction recently enacted into law for 2018, it may make save you some money if you shift planned charitable giving from 2018 to 2017.

The standard deduction for 2017 is $12,700 for married filing jointly. For 2018, it jumps up to $24,000, but the standard per-person exemption goes away, and the marginal rates decrease. If you'd have been in the 15% bracket, your marginal rate will drop to 12%, and for the 25% bracket, the marginal rate will drop to 22%.

Let's say your combined property tax rate, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions comes to $20,000 and you're just over the threshold for the 25% bracket, and you expect next year to be about the same. This year, it makes sense to itemize deductions, since they total more than the $12,700 standard deduction. Next year, you'll take the standard deduction. Under these circumstances, it makes sense to shift giving you planned to do in 2018 into 2017. If you shift $100 in giving from 2018 to 2017, your 2017 itemized deductions would increase to $20,100, your taxable income would drop by $100, and your tax would drop by $25. Meanwhile, your itemized deductions for 2018 would drop from $20,000 to $19,900, which is still below the standard deduction of $24,000, so there would be no change to your 2018 taxable income. In this scenario, you could shift $4,000 in giving from 2018 to 2017 and reduce your combined federal tax burden by $1,000 from what it would be if you gave the same amount both years.

There are three key variables: Itemized deductions for 2017, expected deductions for 2018, and amount of giving shifted. If your itemized deductions for 2018 are likely to top $24,000, shifting a dollar of giving from next year to this only saves you 3 cents, the difference between old and new marginal rates. The maximum benefit from this approach, where the amount shifted would result in a tax savings equal to your current marginal rate times the amount, would be derived from shifting enough to bring your 2017 itemized deductions above $12,700, and bringing your expected 2018 deductions below $24,000. Shifting $7,300 in giving from next year to this year would save you that amount times your current marginal tax rate.

So where should that extra 2017 giving go? Many non-profits have matching gift challenges in effect, with donors pledging to match gifts, sometimes by multiples.

Consider benevolence ministries like John 3:16 in Tulsa that provide relief while helping people develop the skills and self-sufficiency to stay out of poverty. Pregnancy resource centers like MEND are essential to supporting young women who find themselves pregnant in less than ideal circumstances, ensuring that they and their babies get off to the best possible start. Ministries like Crossover Community Impact combine several missions to meet the spiritual, physical, and educational needs of their communities.

Nothing can be more important that having God's Word in the language you speak from the heart. Americans are blessed to have multiple translations available in English, but many languages have no Bible at all or only portions. Wycliffe Bible Translators are working to change that, and at the same time helping to document and preserve many minority languages under pressure from urbanization, globalization, and cultural homogenization.

Think-tanks like OCPA, AFP, and Heritage Foundation do the research that legislators need to produce good laws that protect our freedom and use our tax dollars wisely.

As the culture becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity, organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and Home School Legal Defense Fund will play a growing role in protecting our ability to live our lives in accordance with the dictates of our consciences.

Other organizations are striving to influence the culture:

Christian education at any level (e.g. Augustine Christian Academy, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Hillsdale College) is worth supporting, so that more children and college students can afford to benefit from an educational environment grounded in the truth. In Oklahoma, donations to qualified opportunity scholarship funds can qualify for tax credits and make K-12 Christian education affordable for more children.

Fellowship for Performing Arts produces award-winning theater productions designed to entertain and engage diverse audiences from a Christian worldview.

I could name many other excellent organizations, but these are a few that are worth your consideration, as you consider your year-end giving.

We saw the new Star Wars movie last night. I'm glad we went, mainly because we finally found out a few answers to the questions raised by Episode VII. The Last Jedi had its exciting moments, a few funny moments, but overall, I found it unsatisfying.

Like many Tulsans my age, I saw the original Star Wars at the original Southroads Cinema and was an immediate fan. Somehow I missed seeing The Empire Strikes Back until years after it premiered, but I saw Episode VI on opening night with a bunch of MIT friends at a multiplex in Boston's West end. The prequels came along during the childhood of my oldest kid, but I think Episode III was the first one he got to see in the theater; I still remember with a smile his comparison of the machinations of Senator Palpatine in Episode III to then-Mayor Bill LaFortune.

(The Southroads Cinema was a free-standing building operated by the General Cinema Corporation, which stood roughly where the parking lot for Party City is now. I think it was still a single-screen theater at this point in its history. In the early to mid 1970s -- after the demolition of the grand downtown theaters and before the construction of the Williams Center Cinema -- the Southroads and the Continental were the grandest places in town to see a movie. Stanley Kramer's Oklahoma Crude, which starred George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway, both at the heights of their respective careers, had its world premiere at the Southroads in 1973. The Southroads was eventually "twinned" and then closed in 1993.)

Over at The Daily Wire -- Ben Shapiro's news and commentary website -- I found some worthwhile commentary about this movie specifically and the franchise generally.

First, here's a non-spoiler essay by Shapiro about the cosmology of the Star Wars series: "'The Force' in 'Star Wars' Is Stupid and Immoral":

But more than that, the Dark Side vs. Light Side nonsense prioritizes feelings over behavior. Hate doesn't lead to evil. It depends on what you hate. Lucas says hate leads to suffering. Well, hating the Nazis didn't lead to suffering. As Proverbs 8:13 says, "To fear the Lord is to hate evil." And passivity doesn't lead to decency. Gandhi urged the Jews to try passive resistance against the Nazis. That was moronic.

Worse, the morality of the Force creates the worst sort of moral equivalence. It's the same idiotic logic that leads every show these days to include some character chiding the prospective hero about not killing the bad guys, lest they become the bad guys. If you use hate to kill the Emperor, the Emperor has won, this logic goes.

Really? What if you use hate to kill the Emperor, then turn around and don't use hate on the civilians? Was it better to sit there in a cave while millions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced on Alderaan? Wouldn't it have been slightly better for Obi Wan not to have retreated to his cave monastery?

The vision of the Force in the Star Wars galaxy is morality-free. It's feelings-centered, which is another way of saying "selfish." Who cares about your feelings? Go kill the Emperor using whatever means you have at your disposal. And it turns out that shooting lightning from your fingertips and Force-choking is a slightly more useful skill set than Jedi mind tricks that don't even work on Jabba.

The site has also published some spoiler-laden reviews and essays on the latest film:

SPOILERS in my comments after the jump:

Edited from the version originally published on December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to anyone who happens by BatesLine today.

As a Holland Hall high school student, I attended and sang in the annual service of Christmas lessons and carols at Trinity Episcopal Church, modeled after the annual Christmas Eve service from the chapel of King's College, Cambridge.

At the beginning of the service, after the processional, Father Ralph Urmson-Taylor would read the bidding prayer. Confessing Evangelical has it as I remember it. It's worth a moment of your time to ponder.

Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this our diocese.

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

Lastly, let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore, and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom in the Lord Jesus we are one forevermore.

These prayers and praises let us humbly offer up to the Throne of Heaven, in the words which Christ himself hath taught us: Our Father, which art in heaven...

The bidding prayer was written by Eric Milner-White, dean of the chapel of King's College, who introduced the Lessons and Carols service there on Christmas Eve 1918. Jeremy Summerly describes the prayer as "the greatest addition to the Church of England's liturgy since the Book of Common Prayer."

In some versions, the prayer for "all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love" is dropped, perhaps because of political correctness and religious timidity, but they seem to have been restored in recent years. Who needs prayer more than those who reject the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

The phrase "upon another shore, and in a greater light" always gives me goosebumps as I think about friends and family who are no longer with us, but who are now free from pain and delighting in the presence of the Savior they loved so dearly in this life. As he wrote those words, Milner-White, who had served as an army chaplain in the Great War before his return to King's College, must have had in mind the 199 men of King's and the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen who never returned home from the trenches of Europe.

This year many Tulsans who knew him will hear that phrase and remember David Rollo, who, as Holland Hall's music director, developed the musical tradition of the school's annual Lessons and Carols service at Trinity. David's friends and family miss him greatly, but he celebrates Christmas this year free of all the pains and physical limitations that plagued him in this life.

Which brings us to the final verses of the Epiphany hymn, "As with Gladness, Men of Old":

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!


The history of the Lessons and Carols service is presented in this 15-minute BBC program, Episode 8 of the series "A Cause for Caroling." Edward White Benson, first Bishop of Truro, originated the service of Nine Lessons and Carols in 1880. It was published in 1884 and began to be used more widely.

On December 8, 2013, Holland Hall celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Lessons and Carols service, and I was among the alumni privileged to join the Holland Hall Chorus in two of the anthems under the baton of retired director David Rollo and then-director Steve Dyer. You can watch the entire Holland Hall 50th Anniversary Lessons and Carols online. Here is a six-minute "trailer" of Lessons and Carols.

This year's broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge will be available for the next four weeks on the BBC website. You can download the booklet for the service here. (Direct link to PDF.)

John Piper explains what Christmas is all about in 115 words:

Christmas means that a king has been born, conceived in the womb of a virgin. And this king will reign over an everlasting kingdom that will be made up of millions and millions of saved sinners. The reason that this everlasting, virgin-born king can reign over a kingdom of sinners is because he was born precisely to die. And he did die. He died in our place and bore our sin and provided our righteousness and took away the wrath of God and defeated the evil one so that anyone, anywhere, of any kind can turn from the treason of sin to the true king, and put their faith in him, and have everlasting joy.

In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 780, which extensively amended the criminal code to reclassify some felonies as misdemeanors and to eliminate stricter penalties for repeat offenders for certain crimes. Earlier in 2016, the Legislature had made changes to the criminal code with the same aim -- control costs by only locking up those offenders who really need to be locked up.

Now prosecutors are saying the changes are making it more difficult to keep thieves off the streets. What appears to be happening in some neighborhoods is that drug addicts, stealing to support their habit, are opportunistically targeting their own neighbors. From KTUL:

Neighbors in the Mayo Meadow neighborhood are fighting off burglars who they say keep coming back.

A new law may be keeping them out of jail.

About six months ago, Edwards almost became a burglary victim.

"We got a knock on the door about 4:30 in the morning," Edwards said.

It was police. Someone caught several people trying to steal from her El Camino.

"They had all four tires off of this El Camino in the trunk of the car," Edwards said.

One of those people was Isaac Franklin. He was arrested this week on multiple burglary charges in the Mayo Meadow neighborhood dating back to October, but court records show he's been in trouble before.

The story goes on to quote Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless: "I think it has really tied our hands that we don't have the range of punishment and the taboo of having those crimes be a felony.... Someone can be caught five separate times with possession of a controlled and dangerous substance and every time it is a misdemeanor."

Among many other changes, SQ 780 deleted 21 O.S. 51.3, which imposed longer sentences on criminals who, among other offenses, committed multiple acts of petit larceny. As part of their 2016 reform bill, the legislature increased the threshold between petit larceny and grand larceny from $500 to $1000. So someone could steal $999 worth of packages from porches, lawn equipment from backyards, and electronics from cars every day of the week and never get dinged for more than petit larceny.

Every person who, having been convicted of petit larceny, or of an attempt to commit an offense which if perpetrated, would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary, commits any crime after such conviction, is punishable as follows:

1. If such subsequent offense is such that upon a first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for life, such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for life.

2. If such subsequent offense is such that upon first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for any term less than for life, such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for the longest term prescribed upon a conviction for such first offense.

3. If such subsequent conviction is for petit larceny, or for any attempt to commit an offense, which, if perpetrated, would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary, then such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for a term not exceeding five (5) years.

The KTUL story mentioned a particular suspect who lives and, it would seem, "works" in and around the Mayo Meadow neighborhood. Public records show convictions on several offenses, including one that converted a deferred sentence into a suspended sentence. Conversations among neighbors suggest several months of skulking around the neighborhood.

Isaac Lee Franklin, now 23, was arrested in November 2016 and charged with 2nd degree burglary, unlawful possession of controlled drug (methamphetamine/marijuana), and possession or selling of paraphernalia while not using a motor vehicle. Those charges were dismissed and refiled on February 8, 2017, as breaking and entering without intent, possession of a controlled drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Franklin entered a guilty plea and was given a deferred sentence by Judge David Youll.

On May 22, 2017, Isaac Lee Franklin and Demetrius Romont McClendon were charged with tampering with a vehicle. (That would appear to be the incident described in the news report.) On June 23, Franklin entered a plea of guilty. His deferred sentence from February was accelerated by Judge Sharon Holmes to a conviction and a six months suspended sentence with unsupervised probation. The six month sentence on the breaking and entering charge was likewise suspended, with unsupervised probation. He was required to pay $2,603 in court costs at a rate of $25 per month.

On December 4, 2017, Isaac Lee Franklin was charged with petit larceny. Franklin was arrested and booked into the Tulsa County jail on December 13, 2017. The offenses listed on his booking include 2nd degree burglary, disobeying a yellow signal, trespassing with warning posted, false declaration from burglary, and petit larceny. He is listed as 5'6", 110 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes.


Mod's Coffee & Crepes coffee sleeve

This coming Saturday, December 16, 2017, Mod's Coffee and Crepes will close its doors after seven years in business.

SX043668-Mods_Philcade_Lobby.JPGYesterday was the last chance to enjoy one of the things we love about Mod's -- gluten-free crepes available on Tuesdays. A week ago Tuesday we gathered there to celebrate one child's victory in a speech contest (she won first place in the local competition and will go on to district) and the other's successful cello jury. We had our favorite crepes (the kids like the club, I'm partial to the smoked salmon, cream cheese, and dill crepe) and enjoyed them under the Art Deco splendor of the Philcade lobby. After dinner we went back to the counter to get some gelato, which we enjoyed as we perused the Tulsa Art Deco Museum exhibits of stylized clothing, building ornamentation, and household appliances in the arcade's display windows. We came back again this Tuesday, had dinner and gelato again, and ordered a pan of the stuff (mixed berry, 5.5L for $45) to pick up later in the week.

Mod's was a favorite place to go after downtown music lessons or after a concert at the PC. Sometimes I'd hang out there during lessons to drink coffee and use the wifi. I appreciate the choice of coffees (roasted by Nordaggio's) which almost always included an exotic, flavorful single-origin from Ethiopia, Tanzania, or Sumatra, plus their "Nox Atra" (Latin for "really, really dark night") dark roast blend. Some Thursday evenings after music, I'd take my youngest son to Mod's, we'd sit in the back alcove (near the outlets, and a bit quieter than the Philcade lobby), eat crepes, critique his essay for that week, and then top it off with gelato, taking some home for the rest of the family.

There are some awkward aspects to the space. In the evenings the arcade entrances are closed, and you can only get in through the cafe itself. Restrooms are in the old Amoco building next door, down a long corridor and past a security guard. Parking can be an issue too, especially as downtown improvements have eliminated some nearby street-side spaces. I don't mind walking around the block for a treat, as we did tonight, but I suppose others might be put off.

From the building directory, it appears that IBM is the sole occupant of the Philcade above the first floor. If the building is full of employees who show up at 8, leave at 5, and sit in front of a computer all day (my speculation), it wouldn't generate much foot traffic for the retailers on the first floor.

Contrast that with the 1932 building directory in a historical display about the Philcade in the corridor off the main lobby -- dozens of small oil-industry companies, railroad offices, and professional offices, which would have employees, clients, customers, business associates, and couriers coming and going throughout the day. In the Philcade shopping arcade, you could buy a ticket on the Frisco railroad, fill a prescription, buy cigars, send a Western Union telegram, get a haircut and a shoe shine.

In 1957, the first floor of the Pan American Building (as it was then known, after the Pan Am Petroleum Corp. that occupied its top two floors) was home to Bob Evans Drugs, Nan Pendelton Shop (women's clothes), American Airlines, Continental Airlines, the Pan Am Cigar Stand, Daniel, Daniel, Ennis & Co accountants, Pan Am Barber Shop, Margo's Gift Shop, Donovan & Warren optometrists, Johnson's Travel Service, DeShane's Tailors, and Braniff International Airways. The upper floors housed Tuloma Gas Products, Diamond Drilling, Indiana Oil Purchasing Co, Oklahoma Log Exchange (oil well log libraries), Fred Phillips Oil Co, geologist Howard Clark, oil operator William D. Phillips, Frisbie Drilling, Noble Drilling, Goff Leeper Drilling, Falcon Seaboard Drilling, Union Wire Rope, Kobe Inc (oil field equipment), Dr. Wilkie Hoover, dentist Paul H. Ramsey, lawyers Steven Smith and Stanley D. Campbell, Williams & Morgan Insurance, consultant Ralph Dieter, and the Red Crown Credit Union. The three-story building just to the south, now attached to the Philcade with no street entrance, had the Tulsa Book Shop, the Tulsa Record Shop, Carson Attractions (for many years, the source for tickets for Tulsa events), and the Catholic Information Center.

I suspect that as the Deco District (which Mod's helped establish) has become more popular, rent has increased. Food prices have risen sharply over the last seven years. Looking back over Mod's Facebook timeline, I notice that they put their food truck up for sale in October of this year and announced the decision to focus on the Philcade store.


Seven years is a very good run for a small eatery. It suggests that the idea was a solid concept and that the restaurant was well managed. In 2010, owner Rusty Rowe won two Tulsey awards -- entrepreneur of the year and restaurateur of the year.

Surely some smart restaurateur could save this unique dining experience, even if it means we customers have to pay a little more. The farewell note indicates that the owners are open to inquiries about "keeping the concept alive."

Mod's will be open until 10 pm the remainder of this week. Stop by and enjoy it while you can. All the best to Rusty, Colleen, and family and the Mod's team in their future endeavors.

UPDATE 2017/12/16: Tulsa Business and Legal News covered Mod's last day in business:

The owner of Mod's Coffee and Crepes cites recent oil and gas layoffs as probably the biggest reason he's closing his downtown eatery.

"The oil and gas layoffs hurt us really bad," Rusty Rowe said. "As the price per barrel dropped, so did the number of regulars we had coming in."...

Some of the impetus for closing is personal, Rowe said. His wife, who has a full-time job, is also going to law school, and the couple have two young children.

But the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Rowe said Mod's revenue fell 20 percent from 2015 to 2016 and another 20 percent from 2016 to 2017.

"Forty percent of our sales is gelato," he said. "That's a hard sell in winter when it's too cold for people to be out walking around."

The idea is to break even in the winter, "and then summer pulls us out of the hole," Rowe said.

For the past two years, that hasn't happened.

Rowe brings up a negative side effect of downtown redevelopment: the novelty factor, new businesses drawing customers away from old favorites, a problem made worse by the state's economic downturn.

With a new business opening every month, he said, customers are less likely to patronize the places that are more established.

"If you like something in the Deco District, go support it, he said. "I'm not the only one having a hard time right now.

UPDATE Thursday, December 7, 2017: Filing is closed, and here is the final 2018 school board candidate list from the Tulsa County Election Board. Only three of 17 seats will be contested. Shawna Keller, the incumbent from District 4 in the eastern part of the Tulsa school district, has drawn two opponents: Kyle R. Wagner and Raymon Simpson. Suzanne Schreiber, the other Tulsa incumbent, drew no opposition. Contested elections will occur in Broken Arrow (Theresa Williamson vs. John Cockrell) and Collinsville (Jennifer McElroy vs. Brady Stephens). No one filed for the Bixby seat, which will be filled by appointment by the other school board members -- a missed opportunity to bring some accountability to bear in that district.

Seat 4 in most districts will be up for election in 2019 (with filing a year from now in December 2018). In Tulsa, only the District 1 seat will be on the ballot; District 1 is currently held by Gary Percefull, and covers the portion of the district west of the Arkansas River, downtown Tulsa, Owen Park, Irving/Crosbie Heights, Brady Heights, neighborhoods along the Sand Springs Line, southern part of Gilcrease Hills, and, southeast of downtown, the Riverview, North Maple Ridge, Swan Lake, Tracy Park, Forest Orchard, Village at Central Park, and Pearl District (south of 6th Street) neighborhoods.

A year is a long way off, but now is the time to start thinking and planning to run. I can think of many young parents who have decided to homestead in the traditional neighborhoods around downtown who would bring new perspectives and energy to the Tulsa school board.

This is a reworking of a post from two years ago, but it has been updated with current information about open seats and candidates, and there is some new information below.

Edina-Cover-A_is_for_Activist.jpgWe are in the midst of the annual filing period for public school board positions in Oklahoma, which ends Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 5 p.m. Most school districts will have a single seat, Position No. 3, up for election to a five-year term. Glenpool also has seat 5 on the ballot to fill an unexpired term. After the first day of filing, many seats have yet to draw a candidate, and no district has more than one candidate.

(Here is the current list of candidates for Tulsa County school board seats. And here's where you'll find maps showing school district and election district boundaries.)

School board filing always comes at a busy and distracted time of year. As I've written before, it's almost as if school board elections were deliberately scheduled to escape the notice of potential candidates and voters.

If you're a conservative, you should give serious consideration to running.

The election will be held on February 13, 2018, with runoffs on April 3, 2018, for those seats where no candidate won a majority of the vote in the February election.

The Tulsa district, largest in the state, has two out of seven seats up for election to a four-year term, Posts No. 4 and 7.

Tulsa Election District 4 is east Tulsa, covering the district roughly east of a line midway between Memorial and Mingo. The current member for District 4 and board vice president, Shawna Keller, is a member of the left-wing Oklahoma Education Association (and, by requirement,
a member of the left-wing National Education Association) according to her bio on the school board website, which describes her as a teacher at Owasso Ram Academy. Shawna Keller is a registered Democrat. (That link goes to information from December 2016, but I was able to confirm current status through the Oklahoma State Election Board's online voter tool.) So far Keller is the only candidate to file in the district

Tulsa Election District 7 covers, roughly, the portion of the district south of 51st St., plus the neighborhoods around Patrick Henry Schools and Promenade Mall. The incumbent is board president Suzanne Schreiber, who was first elected to the seat in 1996. Suzanne Schreiber is also a registered Democrat. So far she is the only candidate to file for the seat.

Looking through the online biographies, I think it's fair to assume that there is not a single conservative on the Tulsa School Board. Six are registered Democrats; one (Amy Shelton in District 2) is registered as an independent.

In addition, Tulsa Technology Center board seat 2 is up for a seven-year term, representing eastern sections of the district roughly bounded by 66th Street North, 31st Street South, and east of Yale Avenue within Tulsa County, plus the part of Rogers County and Wagoner County north of 41st Street within the TTC boundaries. TTC seems to have more money than it knows what to do with; it would be lovely to have a fiscal conservative on the board who could curb their building spree. Incumbent Rick Kibbe, a registered Republican, is the only candidate thus far.

If you're a conservative, you should give serious thought to running, even if you have no school-aged children, even if you have children that are homeschooled or in private school, even if you've never had a child in the public schools. The public school system exists to serve all citizens by educating the children of the community, so every citizen has an interest in the curriculum being used, the way discipline is handled, the condition of the school buildings, and the credentials, skills, and philosophical presuppositions of the teachers, principals, and administrators. Property owners support the school system through ad valorem taxes, and so they have a reasonable interest in the proper and efficient expenditure of those funds. So do all citizens who pay state income and sales taxes, which provide funds to supplement local property taxes.

If you are, like me, a homeschool or private school parent, you will have experience and valuable insights with successful, classical alternatives to the faddish and failing teaching methods, priorities, and content currently in use in the public schools.

I ran some numbers, comparing 2010 census data, broken down by age, with the closest school attendance data I could find, from the 2010-2011 school year. In the Tulsa school district, the average daily attendance was only 67.2% of the number of school-aged children (5-18) who lived in the district on Census Day 2010. That means about a third of school-aged kids were either homeschooled or in private schools, the highest proportion of any district in the metro area. The Tulsa district also had the lowest percentage of residents in the 5-18 bracket -- 17.9%. Compare that to the Sperry district, where 91% of school-aged residents attended the public school, and where 22.6% of the residents were school-aged.

It seems that a substantial number of families move from the Tulsa district to the suburbs when their children reach kindergarten, or, if they stay, many opt for homeschooling or private schools. Those numbers make a strong case for new leaders in the Tulsa district. And if the school board is going to be strictly representative, at least two of the seven members should have children in homeschool or private school, and a majority should be conservative.

Filing is simple: A notarized declaration of candidacy, and a signed copy of the statutory requirements for school board candidates. For this office there is no filing fee. You can view the Oklahoma school board filing packet online. And although school board elections are officially non-partisan, the local and state Republican Party organizations will provide assistance to registered Republicans who are candidates for non-partisan office. (I suspect the same is true of the Democrats.)

There was a time when it was generally agreed that schools existed to transmit knowledge and the values of the community to the rising generation, working alongside parents. At some point, as part of the Gramscian long march through the institutions, the public schools were infiltrated by Leftists who saw them as a venue for missionary work, converting children away from the values of their parents, away from the ideals that made America a prosperous and peaceful nation. The Left has influence over schools of education, textbook publishers, teachers' unions, and continuing education for teachers, administrators, and board members.

If you live in a suburban or small-town district, you might suppose your district is safe from Leftist influence. Think again. Through their college training, their teachers' union newsletter, continuing education courses, peer relationships, and curriculum, your districts' teachers and administrators work in an atmosphere of Leftist presuppositions about the world. It takes strength, conviction, and vigilance for a conservative educator to be conscious of that atmosphere and to resist its influence.

Earlier this fall, Mandy Callihan, a teacher and parent in Jay, Oklahoma, was infuriated to learn that her 12-year-old daughter was being taught in school about mutual masturbation and anal and oral sex, complete with a worksheet she had to fill out. She and other parents went to the school looking for answers and discovered that the curriculum had been approved by the school board and the middle school principal. The superintendent, claiming ignorance, halted the program, but parents were told it would have to be brought back the following year.

In Minnesota, the Center for the American Experiment has just published a detailed 10-page report on slipping standards at the once-successful Edina school district in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. While academic achievement has declined, Leftist indoctrination is on the rise:

Today, for example, K-2 students at Edina Highlands Elementary School are learning--through the "Melanin Project"--to focus on skin color and to think of white skin as cause for guilt. "Equity" is listed as a primary criterion on the district's evaluation for K-5 math curricula. At Edina High School, teachers are haranguing students on "White Privilege," and drilling into them that white males oppress and endanger women. In a U.S. Literature and Composition class, 11th-graders are being taught to "apply marxist [sic], feminist" and "post-colonial" "lenses to literature."

In short, in Edina, reading, writing, math and critical thinking skills are taking a backseat to an ideological crusade.

The Leftist bent of the school district came to public attention after the overwrought reaction by students and teachers to the election results, but the roots of the problem went back several years, to the school's decision to try to close the achievement gap between students of different races by focusing on structural racism as the cause:

The All for All plan's fundamental premise is that white racism--not socio-economic factors like family breakdown--is the primary cause of the achievement gap. If minority students' academic performance is to improve, "systems that perpetuate inequities" must be "interrupt[ed]" and "barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings" must be "eliminate[d]," according to the district's position statement on "Racial Equity and Cultural Competence in Edina Public Schools."

The story mentions one race-conscious elementary school principal who adopted a curriculum provided by the slanderous Leftist group that calls itself the Southern Poverty Law Center. The same principal eliminated flex groups -- opportunities during one period for children of similar ability levels to work together with a teacher, receiving targeted instruction -- because they were perceived as insufficiently diverse. A high school literature class describes a course goal in this way: "By the end of the year, you will have...learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytic...lenses to literature."

There are, it must be said, many good conservatives, many devout Christians serving in Oklahoma's public schools. But they need support in the form of school board members who will set policy and curriculum and ensure that the paid staff adhere to it. Conservative school board members should not give undue deference to "professionals" who have been trained to see education through a Leftist lens. The subject matter taught, the methods used, and the values undergirding it all should be firmly under the control of our elected representatives on the school board.

Education is necessarily ideological, because it rests on presuppositions about knowledge, truth, goodness, and beauty. The ideology of the public schools should reflect the ideology of the community.

If I were running -- and our district isn't up for election this year -- here are some of the planks that would be in my platform:

  • Introduce the classical trivium as the philosophy and method of instruction in schools that are currently failing. That includes a heavy emphasis on memorizing facts in the elementary years, which gives children a sense of mastery and accomplishment and provides a solid foundation for subsequent learning.
  • Instill pride in our city, state, and country. America has its flaws, but it is a beacon of liberty and opportunity that inspires hope in hundreds of millions of people around the world who wish they could live and work here. Our children should understand the aspects of our culture and history that have made our country prosperous and peaceful.
  • Keep the Land Run re-enactments in our elementary schools. It's a fun and memorable way to introduce students to our state's unique history. There is an activist in Oklahoma City who managed to convince historically ignorant principals and school board members there that the '89 Land Run was an act of genocide. Oklahoma City, founded by the '89 Land Run, no longer has reenactments of that event, because of a zealot who pushed her slanderous revision of history on ignoramuses in charge of the schools.
  • Return music to the elementary grades. An early introduction to classical music and learning to make music by singing have tremendous developmental and behavioral benefits.
  • Review all federal grants and determine whether the cost of compliance and the loss of independence is worth the money.
  • Young people who foolishly believe that swapping sexes will solve their deep unhappiness deserve pity and guidance. It is utter cruelty to humor their misplaced hope that "changing gender identity" will cure their misery. Leadership at each school should craft a way to accommodate these deluded young people with compassion and dignity, while protecting the dignity of everyone else, and while affirming the biologically undeniable reality of the two sexes.

On that last point, doing the wise thing will require resisting Federal pressure. If the U. S. Department of Education refuses funding based on its perverted interpretation of Title IX, the school should sue the DoE.

Our public schools need principled, intelligent conservative leadership. Will you step forward to serve?

RELATED (from 2015):

Stella Morabito writes, "Ask Not Who's Running For President, Ask Who's Running For School Board," and she cites the recent battle in Fairfax County, Virginia, over transgender policy as one among many reasons:

The board voted 10-1 with one abstention to shove the policy down the throats of startled parents. There was no discussion and no consideration given to the concerns expressed. Instead, the parents were in effect smeared as intolerant bigots.

The ten board members voting in compliance with this federal harassment behaved like a bunch of cronies who seemed most interested in securing their places of privilege in a coming nomenklatura by regurgitating Orwellian-style talking points about "equality" and "non-discrimination."...

When informed citizens of goodwill vote en masse locally, they can provide an effective check on corruption and force government to be more responsive to its citizens. This kind of citizen activism serves as a buffer that can prevent state and federal governments from absorbing local governments.

As we've seen from the Fairfax County case, our distraction from local elections and neglect of local politics is fertile ground for growing laws under the radar on issues that have not been debated or thought through.

More than ever, we need to push back against the use of local elections as a back door to enforcing agendas established by central, national, or even international agendas.

Walt Heyer, a man who underwent sex-change surgery and then, realizing that the change failed to give him the happiness he had hoped for, changed back, writes that the Obama Administration is using its perverted interpretation of Title IX to force public schools to trample their students in the transgender war against science and reason.

Let's look back and unmask the founders who started the gender madness we see infiltrating into our public schools today. As I detail in "Paper Genders," changing boys into girls started in the perverted minds of three abhorrent pedophile activists from the 1950s who were at the forefront of promoting a movement for sexual and gender experimentation... [Alfred Kinsey, Harry Benjamin, and John Money]....

Public schools are becoming centers for gay, lesbian, and gender-pretender activists and only secondarily fulfilling their purpose as institutions for sound academics. The laws are being interpreted far beyond the original intent of non-discrimination based on gender to where they protect gender pretenders at the expense of the rights of non-trans kids. Gender pretenders are assured access to every school facility and program available to the opposite gender, up to and including girls-only dressing rooms and showers.

Every child's rights to privacy and protection from exposure to inappropriate opposite-sex nudity are now in jeopardy. According to these new legal interpretations, if you like your gender and want to keep your gender that's fine, but you cannot keep your freedom, rights, or protections in public-school dressing rooms or restrooms. The current conflict of interest playing out in school locker rooms between girls born as girls and the self-acknowledged gender pretender trans-kids is real and it is not funny. Non-trans students have lost their right to privacy and parents have lost the freedom to parent and protect their children....

Studies show that people with gender issues also have other psychological issues 62.7 percent of the time. When the co-existing illness is treated, often the desire to change gender dissipates. By not treating the co-existing illnesses first and instead putting the patient through gender reassignment--hormones and surgery--the medical community does irrevocable harm to the patient's body and long-lasting harm to his mind.

The harm is deeper for impressionable children and adolescents who experiment with gender-change behaviors and hormones or hormone blockers. Studies have shown that the majority of kids who are gender confused will grow out of it if they are left alone....

Gender pretenders--also known as trans-kids, crossdressers, or transvestites--should get counseling, not encouragement. Social terrorists who use child transvestites to advance an agenda of sexual perversion should be shut down, not be guiding public school policy.

It's time for parents and kids to fight against the social terrorism of gender change. It's time to take schools back from males who wish to expose themselves with impunity in the girls' locker room.

On Friday, the Oklahoma Legislature approved a budget compromise that funded essential services, cut spending in other areas, and avoided raising taxes entirely. Later the same day, Gov. Mary Fallin used her line-item veto to remove all of the bill except for funding for the three agencies that would have been funded by the cigarette tax increase that was approved during regular session and struck down by the State Supreme Court because it lacked the constitutionally required vote of the people.

Legislative leaders were puzzled by Fallin's veto.

When asked what the Oklahoma Legislature might do after Gov. Mary Fallin line-item vetoed the product of its eight-week special session, House Floor Leader Jon Echols struggled to give an answer.

"I don't think anybody really understands what the intent of this is," said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. "There's a lot of unanswered questions here."

It appears that her veto leaves the state short $110 million this year instead of $215 million, which mostly affected three agencies that have a critical health care mission. She signed enough of the bill to send some money to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Human Services.

Fallin said she wants to call the Legislature back into special session to address the shortfall without spending what is considered one-time funding. She didn't say, however, when that might happen.

"Bringing the Legislature back into special session at this point seems like a waste of time and taxpayer dollars," Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said. "The governor's veto doesn't help Oklahoma thrive; it only serves to throw our budget further into chaos."

(This was not the first time Fallin has vetoed bills unexpectedly, seemingly on a whim.)

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says Fallin's veto broke a promise and may have broken the State Constitution:

I am not happy about the veto especially since the Governor had agreed to the plan if it passed both the House and the Senate. Her actions are a complete reversal of her promise. This is unacceptable, and she should and will be held accountable.

The Governor's decision gives no stability in a state that desperately needs it.

Questions of the constitutionality of the Governor's decision have been raised since it now leaves our budget unbalanced. These concerns must be explored. The fact of the matter is that right now, the legislature has no idea what exactly she did last night or where any funding is. She only released a statement and no documentation to show exactly what was being done. This is highly concerning for us as legislators and should be for the entire State as well.

Oklahoma's budget crisis reflects eight years of no leadership from Gov. Fallin or legislative leaders. Rather than decisively acting to audit the performance of state departments and consolidate services, rather than enduring the attacks from aggrieved interests that decisive action would have incited, Fallin and a succession of House and Senate Republican leaders kicked the can down the road. The minority of courageous fiscal conservatives in the legislature did not have the clout to push for reform, but, thanks to SQ 640 their numbers were sufficient to block the tax hike, forcing state leaders at last to reckon with the kind of waste and duplication now being exposed at the State Health Department.

Had a tax increase been enacted, it merely would have sent a higher baseline for overspending, temporarily relieving the pressure of financial constraint.

As I wrote this summer:

Oklahoma's current dilemma proves that, whether union-label Democrats or crony-capitalist Republicans run the government, public choice theory holds true: In politics, concentrated benefit trumps diffuse cost. Barring a grassroots miracle, a state's governor and legislative leaders will be those politicians most easily swayed by the special interests who come to the State Capitol bearing gifts in exchange for government-given financial advantage, be they public-employee unions looking for a raise, superintendents of tiny school districts hoping to dodge consolidation, or oil barons and wind tycoons looking for targeted tax credits. Pliable legislators get contributions for themselves and their PACs, with which they win the loyalty of their colleagues in the caucus room.

With this sort of leadership, if it can be called leadership, state spending will rise to match rising revenues, because the Ado Annies on Capitol Hill just cain't say no. Concentrated benefit trumps diffuse cost. The profligate spending only makes the cuts all the more painful when revenues fall, as they always do. Oklahoma would be in much deeper trouble were it not for the constitutionally mandated "rainy-day fund" that sequesters some of the financial windfall in good years.

Oklahoma needs a new governor and new legislative leaders willing to eliminate the revenue earmarks that keep taxpayer dollars from flowing where they're most needed, to eliminate duplication in our colleges and career technology centers, to eliminate tax credits that do nothing for economic growth, to eliminate administrative bloat and the regulations that create it. Every one of those necessary steps will threaten some group's concentrated benefit. Persisting with necessary reform in the face of the resulting resistance will require principled courage, a quality scarce amongst the crony-capitalists currently running the state or the big-government tax-hikers who want to replace them.

Mary Fallin's non-leadership is what happens when voters choose image over substance. Her unwillingness to lead has been evident throughout her term and even before her first election to the governor's office:

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs president Jonathan Small praised the Legislature for reaching a budget compromise that balanced the budget without raising taxes:

The Legislature did the right thing by utilizing surplus funds and other available resources rather than raising taxes on working Oklahoma families and small businesses. After the loss of $215 million in expected cigarette tax money, policymakers only needed to address revenue failures for three core agencies during this special session.

This special session was a reminder that, even with total state spending at an all-time high, government will always ask for more money. Leading up to and during the special session, well-paid state government agency heads resorted to threatening many of Oklahoma's most vulnerable citizens.

Meanwhile, subsidies remained in place for out-of-state wind companies, Hollywood filmmakers, and other non-essential programs. There's also plenty of misguided, non-critical spending in agencies like TSET. And, given the recent troubles surrounding one of Oklahoma's largest and most powerful regulatory agencies, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to pump the brakes on any more tax increases until performance audits and true reforms can be completed.

Oklahoma families have to live within their means and make tough choices, as do state policymakers. Using so-called one-time funds in state government is not ideal, but it's better than raising taxes on working Oklahomans.

Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma reacted to the veto:

Oklahoma City, OK - Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma (AFP-OK) is disappointed in the surprise vetoes issued by Governor Mary Fallin on Friday. Her vetoes will bring the legislature back in to what has already been a costly special session. AFP-OK is a strong advocate of good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and hopes lawmakers push to resolve the threat of a continued budget crisis quickly and without raising taxes on hard working Oklahoma families and businesses.

Over the past several months, a steadfast group of legislators have repeatedly rejected the Governor's desire to raise taxes on lower and middle-class families and AFP-OK continues to applaud that effort.

AFP-OK state director, John Tidwell released the following statement:

"I think Will Rogers was right when he said, 'when you find yourself in a hole - quit digging.' This largest tax increase in state history only digs that hole deeper. Governor Fallin's decision to veto large parts of a balanced budget deal and intention to drag out a special session is a raw deal for taxpayers. The governor should have signed the budget deal and accepted the tough budget cuts which would have balanced the budget."

"Her insistence on raising taxes on Oklahoma families is just wrong," Tidwell continued. "What's worse, the Governor seems totally obstinate to truly cutting wasteful spending or reforms of any kind. Oklahomans should support those lawmakers who worked in a bi-partisan way to balance the budget and ask them to continue to stand strong against costly tax increases that will hurt families and small businesses."

MORE: Earlier this month, State Rep. Jason Murphey of Guthrie explained why you should never believe that state government needs more of your money:

Those in the arena of public policy are constantly subjected to the unending refrain of, "Give us more money or all types of armageddon-type scenarios will inevitably occur."

Too often, the weak-minded policy maker acquiesces and accepts the overstated demands at face value.

Worse, many times he doesn't just acquiesce, but actually becomes a co-opted agent for the very bureaucracy to which he was commissioned by the people of Oklahoma to be the check and balance.

Those policy makers who take their responsibility seriously and don't accept the claims of the bureaucrats at face value know that many millions of dollars are wasted by government every year.

It seems that significant waste is found almost every time a truly independent authority investigates the actual spending practices of these agencies.

Over the years, I have seen report after report and audit after audit expose this waste and point to potential spendings.

Unfortunately, state government is so large and spending is so great that legislative purview (already quite minimalistic) has only reached a small subset of overall spend.

Even with those reports and audits pointing to the waste, modernization efforts frequently run up against the political power of bureaucrats who have worked the system to the point that they can use taxpayer dollars to finance an army of lobbyists who are extremely effective at protecting those bureaucracies from reforms.

STILL MORE: The failure of the tax hike seems to be giving new impetus to efforts to address waste:

Following revelations of apparent financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma Department of Health, House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall today said he is empaneling a House Special Investigation Committee to begin conducting an investigation into the agency's use of taxpayer dollars.

The committee will focus its investigation into the finances, state appropriations and other financial resources of the Department of Health and how they were managed. The scope of the committee's investigation could expand to other agencies.

"The allegations at the Department of Health are very concerning, and I share the public's frustration with the mismanagement of at least $30 million in taxpayer funds," said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. "The Legislature has the authority to conduct an investigation, and our members want that to begin as soon as possible. This is a very serious matter, and I would encourage those associated with these allegations to cooperate fully with our investigation."

Published November 9, 2017. Postdated to keep this at the top of the blog until the polls close. If you appreciate the hours of effort behind detailed analysis you can't find anywhere else, Hit the tip jar!


The City of Tulsa is holding a special election this Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The ballot will consist of seven proposed amendments to the City Charter which were approved by the City Council over the course of the summer.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early in-person absentee voting for residents of the Tulsa County will be available at the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave., just north of downtown Tulsa, from 8 am. to 6 p.m. Thursday, November 9, and Friday, November 10, plus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 11. The Tulsa County Election Board has published an information sheet on the November 14, 2017, election.

In addition to the Tulsa special election, voters in House District 76 (northern part of Broken Arrow) have a special general election between Republican Ross Ford and Democrat Chris Van Landingham to fill the vacancy left by the death of State Rep. David Brumbaugh, and voters in Senate District 37 will choose a successor to Sen. Dan Newberry -- Republican Brian O'Hara, formerly Congressman Jim Bridenstine's Deputy District Director, faces 26-year-old Allison Ikley-Freeman. Bixby voters have a franchise renewal on the ballot, and Sand Springs has a city bond issue.


Last Friday morning, Pat Campbell interviewed me about the City of Tulsa, November 14, 2017, ballot propositions. Click the link to listen to the 30 minute podcast.

Here is a summary of the seven City of Tulsa ballot items, with links to details of the charter language to be changed and my analysis.

  1. Summary nuisance abatement: YES
  2. Electronic notice to councilors of Special Meeting: YES
  3. Sloppily written amendment intended to allow emergency clause on resolutions: NO
  4. City general election to be moved to August: NO
  5. Mayor appoints Election District Commission: NO
  6. Permit political activities by civil service employees and sworn public safety officers: NO
  7. Ineffective attempt to constrain funds generated by public safety tax: NO

As a supplement to my commentary on Prop 4, I have written a timeline of the changes Tulsa has made to its election process. Five changes were made in the six-year period between 2006 and 2012.

For your convenience, here is a single-page summary of my recommendations on the 2017 Tulsa City Charter propositions.

For the sixth time since 2006, we will be tinkering with election dates. Two other proposals would have an impact on elections -- the composition of the Election District Commission and allowing city employees under civil service protection to participate in political activity.

An election resolution for the first five of the proposed amendments was approved by the City Council on July 12, 2017, and approved by Mayor G. T. Bynum IV on July 17, 2017. Resolutions sending the sixth and seventh proposed amendments to the voters were approved on August 16, 2017.

State Rep. Scott McEachin of Tulsa, one of the votes against the HB1054X tax increases, explains in a statement that HB1054X would not have provided needed revenue for another 90 days, but bills already passed by the State House would provide immediate funding from cash on hand -- if the Senate will pass the bills and if Gov. Fallin will sign them.

In 1943, Winston Churchill gave a speech which has come to be known as "A Sense of Crowd and Urgency." Certainly, today, November 9, 2017, we will have both a crowd and a sense of urgency at the Oklahoma Capitol. I'll explain why I think Churchill's remarks are relevant to today, but first let us focus on what is urgent--why we must have a sense of crowd and urgency.

Today, all Oklahomans must focus their attention and their political energy on the fierce urgency of having the Senate pass and the governor sign the measures already passed by the House to fund vital health services now.

I repeat, emphatically, all Oklahomans must focus their attention and their political energy on the fierce urgency of having the Senate pass and the governor sign the measures already passed by the House to fund vital health services now.

Let's look to history, to parliamentary tradition, to Churchill for guidance. First:

'And there should be, on great occasions, a sense of crowd and urgency. There should be a sense of the importance of much that is said; a sense that great matters are being decided, there and then, by the House.'

Eliminating the anxiety - in some cases said to be no less than life-threatening to those who suffer from depression - is the great matter to be decided, here and now.

Now is not the time for analogies about cans and roads; now is the time to act. Revenue derived from the passage of HB1054X will not be available until 90 days after the bill is acted upon by the governor. It will not answer our urgent need.

Again, from Churchill: 'The House of Commons has lifted our affairs above the mechanical sphere into the human sphere. It thrives on criticism, it is perfectly impervious to newspaper abuse or taunts from any quarter.... There is no situation to which it cannot address itself with vigor and ingenuity.'

Therefore, let us conduct our affairs in the Capitol today with vigor and ingenuity, according to the 'Oklahoma standard.' In my opinion, the essential element of the Oklahoma standard is how we express our concern for one another in times of crisis. Historically, Oklahomans are both charitable and frugal, but money extracted by law from Oklahoma's citizens is not charity, and money given carte blanche to government which has admitted to misuse of funds is not frugality. Today is not a day to pass a massive tax increase; today is a day to assure all Oklahomans that its House of Representatives, Senate and governor can see that our most vulnerable are protected.

In the spotlight

Specific language and detailed analysis of the seven proposed amendments to the Tulsa City Charter, plus a bonus: a timeline of the history of changes to Tulsa's municipal election process.

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Latest links of interest:

Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes - The New York Times

Another example of totalitarian manipulation of language for control, from a story about a new writing system for the Kazakh language.

'Later, growing fearful of pan-Turkic sentiment among Kazakhs, Uzbeks and other Turkic peoples in the Soviet Union, Moscow between 1938 and 1940 ordered that Kazakh and other Turkic languages be written in modified Cyrillic as part of a push to promote Russian culture. To try to ensure that different Turkic peoples could not read one another's writings and develop a shared non-Soviet sense of common identity, it introduced nearly 20 versions of Cyrillic, Mr. Kocaoglu said....

'The modified Latin alphabet put forward by Mr. Nazarbayev uses apostrophes to elongate or modify the sounds of certain letters.

'For example, the letter "I" with an apostrophe designates roughly the same sound as the "I" in Fiji, while "I" on its own sounds like the vowel in fig. The letter "S" with an apostrophe indicates "sh" and C' is pronounced "ch." Under this new system, the Kazakh word for cherry will be written as s'i'i'e, and pronounced she-ee-ye....

'The only reason publicly cited by Mr. Nazarbayev to explain why he did not want Turkish-style phonetic markers is that "there should not be any hooks or superfluous dots that cannot be put straight into a computer," he said in September. He also complained that using digraphs to transcribe special Kazakh sounds would cause confusion when people try to read English, when the same combination of letters designates entirely different sounds....

'"The president is thinking about his legacy and wants to go down in history as the man who created a new alphabet," said Mr. Satpayev, who supports the switch to Latin script but not the president's version. "The problem is that our president is not a philologist."'

What the stats say: Is Steve Smith the second-best Australian batsman ever? - Sport - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"The Ashes may be over once again, but one of the biggest talking points during the cricket Test series between Australia and England was the continued meteoric rise of Australian captain Steve Smith as a Test batsman.

"There was much speculation as to whether Smith is the best Australian Test batsman -- bar Donald Bradman -- ever to have played the game....

""The Don" Bradman is widely regarded as the greatest Australian cricketer, and was voted the greatest cricketer of the 20th century, with an unrivalled Test batting average of 99.94.

"So what is the ranking of Australian Test batsmen since Australia's first ever Test match in 1877?"

Experts sound alarm as biometric data from driver's licences added to government database - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

This report from Australia illustrates what Real ID is all about. Worries about your ability to get on an airplane was just leverage to get you to scream at your state legislators until they agreed to surrender your personal data to the Feds. (It worked!)

"Driver's licences will be added to the Commonwealth Government's already vast biometric databases after it struck an agreement with the states and territories, handing authorities access to an unprecedented level of information about citizens.

"A system known as "the interoperability Hub" is already in place in Australia, allowing agencies to take an image from CCTV and other media and run it against a national database of passport pictures of Australian citizens -- a process known as "The Capability".

"But soon driver's licences will be added to the system, allowing both government and private entities to access your photo, age and address.

"It is a $21 million system being sold as a way to tackle terrorism and make commercial services more secure.

"But experts warn people now risk losing control of their biometric identity entirely as commercial interests, governments and organised crime gangs all move to capture more personal metadata for their own gain."

Fred Bass, Who Made Strand Bookstore a Mecca, Dies at 89 - The New York Times

'Following his father's playbook, he pursued a policy of aggressive acquisition.

'"At first I used to think he was crazy," Mr. Bass told the cable news channel NY1 in 2015. "Why are we buying extra books? We haven't sold all these. But we just kept buying and buying. It was a fact -- you can't sell a book you don't have."

'The 70,000 books in the Fourth Avenue store swelled, at the Broadway site, to half a million by the mid-1960s and 2.5 million by the 1990s, requiring the purchase of a storage warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. By the time Mr. Bass bought the building for $8.2 million in 1997, the Strand had become the largest used-book store in the world.'"

Genetic Study Supports Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity

Dr. David Ludwig writes:

"According to the Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity (CIM), the processed carbohydrates that flooded our diet during the low-fat diet craze undermine our metabolism and drive weight gain. Put simply:

"Processed carbohydrates -- think white bread, white rice, potato products, low -fat snacks -- raise insulin more than any other food, calorie for calorie. This is just Nutrition, 101.

"Insulin is the Miracle-Gro for your fat cells. A child with new onset type 1 diabetes -- unable to make enough insulin -- will invariable lose weight until receiving treatment, no matter how many calories she consumes. Give that child the right amount of insulin, and weight trajectory returns to normal. Give that child (or an adult with type 2 diabetes) too much insulin and excessive weight gain will predictably result. This is just Endocrinology 101.

"When too many of the calories we eat get locked away in fat cells, there aren't enough calories to supply the needs of the brain and other organs. So we get hungry and "overeat." And to make matters worse, metabolism slows down, further fueling weight gain. This is just Obesity 101....

"This difference is of much more than just theoretical interest, with direct implications for how best to prevent and treat obesity. If the Conventional View is right, we need to focus even more intensively on cutting back calories, for example with a 1600 calorie diet. If the CIM is right, the emphasis should instead be placed on lowering insulin secretion with a lower-carbohydrate/higher-fat diet and other supportive dietary and lifestyle measures. Calorie balance will then adjust naturally due to reduced hunger, greater satiety and faster metabolism."

Surprising Approaches To Achieving Density -- Strong Towns

Andrew Price writes: "I'm not anti-towers, but building up is not the only way to achieve density. Brickell [in Miami, Florida] achieves a population density of 27,302 people per square mile. In contrast, Union City, New Jersey has a population density of 51,810 people per square mile (89% higher) without resorting to towers.

"Most buildings in Union City are low-rise (two to four stories) plus a handful of midrises, all on on small lots. There are many single family homes, and many small-scale apartment buildings and condominiums with a single digit number of units. The cost of developing one of these buildings is within the range of a mortgage for a middle-class family.

"You can achieve extremely high population densities before having to build up. The 11th arrondissement of Paris houses an astounding 110,000 people per square mile (4x that of Brickell and 2.1x that of Union City) without building up....

"Again, I'm not against towers, but I want to show you that there are cheaper, more adaptable, and more economically inclusive development patterns that achieve high population densities without having to jump straight into high-rise towers financed by big banks and built by huge development companies. The secret starts with looking at the development pattern's granularity."

Historical County Maps of Arkansas - 1936

Scans of county highway maps, showing the locations of roads, schools, churches, and settlements.

Indian Land Cessions: U.S. Congressional Documents

Links will lead you to maps and descriptions of each of the territories ceded by treaty by Indian nations to the U. S. Government, through the year 1894, from the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896-1897. A very useful reference if you are looking for detailed and specific information about the steps and stages of Indian removal and resettlement in Indian Territory.

Panoramic Maps | Library of Congress

Bird's-eye-view maps, panoramic maps, and other semi-geographic, semi-artistic representations of American cities in the early decades of the 20th century. Includes the 1918 Fowler and Kelly maps of Tulsa and Bartlesville.

1948 Shell Highway Map of Oklahoma. - David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

A remarkable map of Oklahoma that not only shows the official highway system, but also county roads and small towns that were usually omitted by the official state highway map. This is Oklahoma before turnpikes, before the Corps of Engineers massive lake-building effort. Highway 33 (now US 412) crossed the Grand River east of Chouteau via a free ferry.

The backside features 1948 maps of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Ardmore, and Enid. Interesting to see the paths that the highways took through the cities in the days before interstates and expressways.

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